A round-up of statements issued in response to the Food Standards Agency of Ireland finding horse DNA in a number of burger products sold in Ireland and the UK. This page will be updated regularly.
“Consumers should have confidence that food is exactly what it says on the label and there are strict rules requiring products to be labelled accurately. Defra is working with the Food Standards Agency to urgently investigate how a number of beef products on sale in the UK and Republic of Ireland were found to contain horse and pig meat. The investigation will trace the meat back to its source to find the cause of the contamination and any appropriate enforcement action will be taken.”
“The Food Standards Agency is investigating urgently how a number of beef products on sale in the UK and Republic of Ireland came to contain some traces of horse and pig DNA.
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland reported yesterday (Tuesday, 15 January) that an analysis they carried out into the authenticity, or labelling accuracy, of a number of burger products revealed that some contained horse and pig DNA.
In particular, 27 beefburger products were analysed, with 10 of the 27 products (37%) testing positive for horse DNA and 23 (85%) testing positive for pig DNA. In nine of the ten beefburger samples, horse DNA was found at very low levels. In one sample from Tesco, the level of horse DNA indicated that horse meat was present and accounted for approximately 29% of the total meat content of the burger.
All of the retailers involved so far have removed potentially affected products from their shelves.
The FSA has been in contact overnight with the retailers and producers named in the FSAI survey and has called a meeting this afternoon with a wider range of food industry representatives to discover the extent of the potential problem and to investigate how this contamination might have occurred.”
Tesco group technical director Tim Smith said: “Today we were informed that the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) has found that a number of beef products they have recently tested contained horse DNA. These included two frozen beef burger products sold by Tesco in both the UK and Ireland. Products sold at other retailers were also discovered to contain horse DNA.
“We immediately withdrew from sale all products from the supplier in question. We are working with the authorities in Ireland and the UK, and with the supplier concerned, to urgently understand how this has happened and how to ensure it does not happen again. We will not take any products from this site until the conclusion and satisfactory resolution of an investigation.
“The safety and quality of our food is of the highest importance to Tesco. We will not tolerate any compromise in the quality of the food we sell. The presence of illegal meat in our products is extremely serious. Our customers have the right to expect that food they buy is produced to the highest standards.
“The relevant authorities have said that these findings pose no risk to public health. We understand that many of our customers will be concerned by this news, and we apologise sincerely for any distress. Our customer service team is standing by to answer any questions customers may have.”
“Iceland Foods notes with concern the statement issued by The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) this afternoon, outlining the results of a study which has apparently identified traces of horse DNA in a number of beef burger products sold by a variety of retailers. Pending further investigation, Iceland has withdrawn from sale the two Iceland brand quarter pounder burger lines implicated in the study.
As Prof. Alan Reilly, Chief Executive of the FSAI, has stated: “The products we have identified as containing horse DNA and/or pig DNA do not pose any food safety risk and consumers should not be worried. Consumers who have purchased any of the implicated products can return them to their retailer.”
Iceland will be working closely with its suppliers to investigate this issue and to ensure that all Iceland brand products meet the high standards of quality and integrity that we specify and which our customers are entitled to expect.
“Lidl UK is committed to maintaining the highest quality standards across its entire range. Following receipt of the findings of the FSAI study, Lidl has taken the decision to remove the implicated product from sale. The relevant authorities have confirmed that this does not cause any health risk whatsoever but this does not detract from the fact that this should not have happened. A full investigation is underway to ascertain how this incident occurred. A refund will be provided to customers who wish to return affected products.”
“Lidl Ireland is committed to maintaining the highest quality standards across its entire range. Following receipt of the findings of a study carried out by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) into beef burgers, Lidl has taken the decision to remove all implicated products (frozen beef burgers) from sale, pending a full investigation. Lidl can confirm that there is no risk to human health with regard to the frozen beef burgers implicated in the study. No other Lidl products are affected by this issue. A refund will be provided to customers who wish to return affected products.”
Silvercrest Foods & Dalepak Foods (both part of ABP)
“This issue affects a number of burger manufacturing companies in Ireland (see attached FSAI table), including Silvercrest Foods and Dalepak Foods.
Following tests carried out by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, we have been alerted to frozen beef burgers which contain porcine and equine DNA.
Although the products pose no risk to public health, Silvercrest and Dalepak have taken immediate action to isolate, withdraw and replace all suspect product. Silvercrest and Dalepak have never purchased or traded in equine product and have launched a full-scale investigation into two continental European third-party suppliers who are the suspected source of the product in question.”
“Liffey Meats has withdrawn from sale all products identified by the FSAI tests. The FSAI tests found minute traces of non-beef DNA in the company’s beef burgers. The company believes it has identified the source of the contamination. Liffey Meats is purely a beef processor and has absolute traceability on all of the beef used. The source of the contamination is imported ingredients and these will be replaced from other sources before production is resumed and customers are supplied.
“As confirmed by the FSAI the products concerned represent no risk to human health. In two of the three samples the levels as reported by the FSAI are so low as to be at the Limit of Quantification (LOQ) and for the other sample the level detected is reported as being less than 0.1%.
“We sincerely regret that any product produced by the Company would not conform to the highest specifications and sincerely apologise to our customers”.
Nick Allen, EBLEX sector director, said: “These findings are disappointing and utterly frustrating to the industry in England. We work very hard to ensure beef products are high quality and clearly labelled. Traceability is high so we can find the provenance of a product but you cannot legislate for someone in the supply chain making a mistake.There is a full investigation taking place and we need to wait and see what the results of that tell us before we can make any judgement on this at all.”
Mary Creagh MP, Labour Shadow Defra Secretary of State
“Consumers will be rightly concerned by this news. People should be able to go into the supermarket and be confident that what that they are buying for their families is legal and safe. There are serious questions for the government to answer about what happened and why it wasn’t detected by British food safety authorities. Shoppers wanting reassurance should look for the Red Tractor mark which guarantees quality British standards.
This is a wake-up call for the government and retailers that rolling back regulation that protects our food serves no-one and is against consumer interest. This retailers affected must now work to reassure all shoppers about where their meat comes from.”
British Meat Processors Association
Stephen Rossides, Director of the BMPA, said: ”The Irish food safety authorities have stated that there are no human health risks involved in this episode. This is not a food safety issue.”
“But traces of equine DNA and porcine DNA have been found in some products that were described as beef burgers.
At this stage, we do not know how this could have happened. It is vital that urgent and thorough investigations are carried out along each of the meat supply chains associated with these consumer products to get to the bottom of what has occurred. “
He added: “The great bulk of food products, including meat and meat products, are safe, produced to good quality standards and correctly described and labelled by food manufacturers. UK consumers can trust the food they buy.
But this episode - rare and unusual though it is - undermines consumer confidence and trust in the meat industry, and causes reputational damage to it.
We must get to the bottom of what went wrong and why, and how such an incident can be prevented in the future. Our customers and consumers must be able to put their trust in our industry.”
“We know where all of the beef in our own-label frozen burgers comes from as we make them all in our factories and the beef used in them is 100% British.The beef in our chilled burgers is 100% British as well. We don’t source any Morrisons own-label burgers from the three affected sites.
“We’ve been checking our beef burger supply chain this morning and we’re confident that the meat used in our products is British beef. We have robust quality processes for all our products but as a result of this story emerging, we will be investigating what happened elsewhere and asking whether it has any implications for Morrisons.”
“Aldi Stores (Ireland) takes the quality of all its products extremely seriously and demands the highest standards from its suppliers. In addition, Aldi carries out regular independent testing of all meat products it sells.
Following notification this afternoon from the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) of an issue in relation to our Oakhurst Beef Burgers (8 pack) we have immediately removed the product from sale and have launched an investigation into the matter. We have sought information from one supplier, Silvercrest, which is dealing directly with the FSAI on the issue that has been raised.
It is important to stress that there is no risk to human health with regard to this product. Any customers who wish to return the product in question will receive an immediate refund. No other Aldi products are affected by this issue.”
“Following the withdrawal of our Oakhurst Beef Burgers (8 Pack) in the Republic of Ireland yesterday, Aldi has made the decision to withdraw three products from sale in the UK as a purely precautionary measure whilst we conduct further investigations.
- Frozen Oakhurst 100% Beef Quarter Pounders
- Frozen Specially Selected Aberdeen Angus Quarter Pounders
- Frozen Oakhurst Burgers 16 pack
Aldi would like to stress that there is no risk to food safety, and the product tested by the FSAI, Oakhurst Beef Burgers (8 Pack) is not on sale in Aldi UK stores. Any customers who wish to return the products in question will receive an immediate refund. No other Aldi products are affected by this issue.”
“Superquinn take all issues of product traceability extremely seriously and places a high value on delivering quality products to their customers. We are committed to sourcing from Irish suppliers and 100% of the beef sold in Superquinn is born, bred and reared in Ireland. Superquinn does source products from Silvercrest Foods, one of the three suppliers implicated in respect of the horse meat issue; however, we can confirm that none of our products tested positive.
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) confirmed that no trace of horse DNA was found in any of the Superquinn products tested, as part of a targeted study examining the authenticity of a number of beef burger, beef meal and salami products.The study, however, confirmed that a small number of our products tested positive for pork DNA. We are working with the FSAI and our suppliers to investigate this issue.”
The Co-operative Food
“We can confirm that we take two lines of frozen own-brand beefburgers (a pack of 8 and a pack of 16) from Silvercrest Foods. Neither of these products have been implicated in this report. However, we are taking this matter very seriously, and, purely as a precaution, we are removing them from sale while tests are being conducted to ensure they have been produced to our strict specifications.”
Quality Meat Scotland
Quality Meat Scotland chairman, Jim McLaren, said: “Our industry is absolutely committed to protecting the integrity of our Scotch Beef brand and we take great pride in the world-leading traceability we have in place. The quality assurance schemes in Scotland guarantee Scotch Beef comes from cattle born, reared and slaughtered in Scotland. Ensuring consumers have absolute confidence in our labels is at the heart of our assurance process which includes traceability from birth to slaughter, with our processing assurance checks particularly focused on labelling integrity.Despite the media interest I’m pleased to say shoppers have understood the clear message from health officials that there is no food safety risk and the feedback we are receiving from meat retailers is one of business as usual.”
SuperValu & Centra
“SuperValu and Centra take all issues of product traceability extremely seriously and places a high value on delivering quality products to their customers. We are committed to sourcing from Irish suppliers and 100% of the beef sold in SuperValu and Centra is born, bred and reared in Ireland. Neither SuperValu nor Centra source products from Liffey Meats, Silvercrest Foods or Dalepak Hambleton (UK). The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) confirmed that no trace of horse DNA was found in any of the SuperValu and Centra products tested, as part of a targeted study examining the authenticity of a number of beef burger, beef meal and salami products. The study, however, confirmed that a small number of our products tested positive for pork DNA. We are working with the FSAI and our suppliers to investigate this issue.”
“We take matters like this extremely seriously, despite the fact that we aren’t implicated in this report. As soon as we were made aware of the issue, we launched a full traceability audit with our supplier. This is still underway. In the meantime as a precaution we have withdrawn a number of frozen burger products from sale.”
“We take this matter extremely seriously and apologise for the understandable concern this issue has caused. ABP Food Group companies have never knowingly bought, handled or supplied equine meat products and we acknowledge the understandable concern created as a result of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland’s DNA frozen beef burger test results. This issue only affects frozen beef burgers supplied by Silvercrest Foods and Dalepak Hambleton, and while there is no food safety issue, it was at our suggestion that a withdrawal was implemented.
“Our group companies only buy meat from licensed and approved EU suppliers. These results relate only to where beef products have been sourced by those suppliers from the Continent. Only a small percentage of meat is currently procured from outside of the UK & Ireland. Fresh meat products are unaffected.
We are shocked by the result of these tests, and are currently at a loss to explain why one test showed 29% equine DNA. Current investigations are centred on beef products which originated from two suppliers, and we have today dispatched auditors to their sites to conduct unannounced spot checks. We are conducting our own DNA tests on a wide number of samples and expect the results in the coming days.
While extensive and thorough safety checks are conducted on all meat products, the industry does not routinely DNA test meat products. As a result of this incident we are implementing a new testing regime for meat products which will include DNA analysis. Should our own testing prove positive, we are also considering our options in respect of the two suppliers concerned. It is vital that the integrity of the supply chain is assured and we are committed to restoring consumer confidence.”
“Although Sainsbury’s products have not been implicated, as our customers would expect we treat matters like this extremely seriously. All our burgers are made from 100% British beef but as a precautionary measure we are withdrawing those sourced from Dalepak.”
Food quality is a top priority for Burger King Worldwide. As part of its comprehensive food quality programme, the company maintains stringent and overlapping controls and audits to oversee our suppliers.
BKW is fully aware of the issue concerning FSAI tests into beef burgers supplied to supermarkets by Silvercrest, a subsidiary of ABP, and we are confident that the burgers supplied to UK and Irish BURGER KING restaurants are not affected by these reports for the following reasons:
· The reported source of the raw materials contamination originated at two suppliers in Continental Europe. BURGER KING restaurants in the UK and Ireland do not use beef from Continental Europe or from these suppliers.
· BURGER KING burgers in the UK and Ireland are made from 100% British and Irish beef, with no fillers or other binders added.
· BURGER KING burgers in the UK and Ireland only contain high quality cuts of flank and forequarter British and Irish beef.
· BURGER KING burgers in the UK and Ireland are made on a dedicated and separate BURGER KING production line.
As a standard precautionary measure we have launched a complete investigation into this matter.